DENGUE, TYPHOID FEVER, CHOLERA, LEPTOSPIROSIS

Rainy season illnesses (Part 2)

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JOCELYN LAUREL

Continuing on the topic of illnesses associated with the rainy season, here are four more of them that pose serious health threats, as listed by the Department of Health (DOH).

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Dengue fever
Dengue fever is an infectious disease caused by a virus, and is most common during the rainy season. It is transmitted by two species of mosquito, the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which characteristically bite during the daytime. They breed in clean, stagnant water, as is found in flower vases, discarded cans, tires, bottles, jars, and in the leaf stem bases and other parts of some ornamental plants.

Because of the prevalence of dengue nowadays, the Department of Education (DepEd) and DOH circulate memos to schools, both private and public, outlining preventive measure that should be taken.

While the presentation of dengue fever may vary greatly from person to person, a combination of certain signs and symptoms increases the likelihood that an individual may be suffering from this illness, including:

Fever lasting two to seven days
Muscle and joint or bone pains
Headache
Weakness and prostration
Rashes or pinpoint bleeding
spots under the skin
Abdominal pain
Bleeding gums and nose
Bloody vomit or black
tarry stools

In order to prevent the disease, everyone is urged to check their surroundings for wet or moist areas, which could serve as breeding places of mosquitoes. An additional step parents might want to take is to have children wear long pants and socks to school.

Flash news: The first vaccine against dengue, Dengvaxia, created by leading multinational pharmaceutical company and an expert in the development of vaccinations, Sanofi Pasteur is now available in the Philippines. The vaccine took more than 20 years to develop and has been thoroughly tested, based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The dengue vaccine, to be taken in three doses at 0-6-12 month interval, can protect an individual from all four strains of the dengue virus. This can be administered to people aged nine to 45 years old.

Typhoid fever
This type of fever is caused by bacteria called the Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). The bacteria could infect a contaminated food, drink or water. People carrying the disease continue to spread it through their stool. Once the bacteria enter your body, it travels into the intestines and then into your bloodstream. It will then penetrate the lymph nodes, gallbladder, liver, spleen, and other parts.

Symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Headache
Aches and pain
Fever
Fatigue
Diarrhea
Constipation or abdominal discomfort
If these symptoms persist, bring patient to the nearest hospital.
Prevention and control:
Drink only safe and clean water. If unsure, boil drinking water.
Wash and cook food properly, especially raw fruits and vegetables.
Avoid street vended foods.
Wash hands with soap after using the toilet and before and after eating.
Keep surroundings clean to prevent insects and rodents from breeding.

Cholera
A classified diarrheal disease, cholera is caused by a bacterium called vibrio cholerae, which is often found in water areas polluted by human wastes as well as places that have poor sanitation and water treatment. The disease is usually transmitted by water sources contaminated by the bacteria, though raw foods such as shellfish can be also be subjected to the bacteria.
Symptoms include:
Sudden onset of frequent pain
less watery stools,
Vomiting
Rapid dehydration
Wrinkled skin
Low blood pressure
Dry mouth, and
Rapid heart rate

However, there are cases that this disease does manifest any of these symptoms, but could be severe at times.

For immediate treatment, particularly to replace lost body fluid, give oral rehydration solution or a homemade solution (1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 liter of water). If diarrhea persists, bring patient to nearest hospital.

Prevention and control:
Make sure that the water you drink is distilled or has been boiled and cooled as tap water may get polluted by the acidic rain and wastewater.

If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so as breast milk will help strengthen your baby’s immune system by providing antibodies.

You may also make use of distilled or boiled water for washing dishes, especially for anything that has to go into your child’s mouth. This will cut down the spread of germs and diseases, as everyone and everything is more prone to becoming carriers during wet seasons.

Wash hands with soap after using the toilet and before and after eating.

Keep surroundings clean to prevent insects and rodents from breeding.

Leptospirosis
This disease is a severe infection caused by the Leptospira virus that comes from animals such as rats. People with open wounds can get infected with this virus by having contact with flood waters, vegetation or moist soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, especially rats. The virus enters the body through a bodily wound, the eyes or mucous membranes. Rats are often the culprits behind the transmission of this disease.

The DOH also urges the public to stay indoors, avoid wading in flood waters, and stay away from low-lying areas and bridges during heavy downpours of rain.

Symptoms include:
Fever
Muscle pain
Chills,
Headache,
Redness of the eyes
Dark-colored urine
Light stools,
Abdominal pain
Jaundice
Hemorrhage in the skin and
mucous membranes
Diarrhea
Rashes

In severe cases: kidney or failure. If not immediately addressed, Leptospirosis may prove to be fatal.

Prevention and control:
Avoid swimming or wading in floodwater or potentially contaminated water. Use boots and gloves.

Drain potentially contaminated water when possible.

Control rats in the household by using traps or poison.

Keep house and surroundings clean

Practice proper hygiene and cleanliness.

Despite your efforts, there may be instances when you come home dripping wet with rain or floodwater. In such case, take a warm shower right away. By doing so, you protect yourself from a possible onslaught of infections. Children must bathe twice a day, and have their nails clipped so that when they bite them, nothing dirty enters the mouth.

Finally, here general points to remember during the rainy season:
Keep your raingear always handy when you go out. A raincoat with a hooded jacket and waterproof shoes are the best items.

Taking a healthy supply of vitamins will activate your antibodies and reduce the severity of cold. Eating natural form or taking food supplements is helpful and may help drive away a cold virus faster.

Try to eat nutritious food and avoid eating out during the rainy season.

Prepare meals with full precaution and maintain health and hygiene throughout the house.

Use safe water for drinking as well as cooking. That means water must be boiled well before using.

Try to carry a bottle of boiled water with you when you are outside.

Do not store water in open containers as they may be the breeding place for mosquitoes. If water is stored in open containers for a long time, then do not use it.

For some diseases, vaccinations are available. Check with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician to make sure which vaccines you and your child should have.

Remember, health is wealth. Diseases prevent us from being productive and enjoying life. If you value these things, think about your health.

Sources:
ph.theasianparent.com/kiddie-rainy-disease-can-prevent/news.abs-cbn.com/lifestyle/08/07/12/5-rainy-day-diseases-watch-out; www.doh.gov.ph/node/1066; www.justforhearts.org/2014/07/common-health-problems-rainy-season/

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